ABSTRACT

Trade unionism is ultimately defined by the willingness of workers to take collective action in defence or pursuit of collective gains. Many on the left accused Nottinghamshire miners of original sin: of behaving as they did because of their birthright. Spencer kept the wages higher than those paid to miners elsewhere and branch officials, elected in the usual way, were replaced by the men if they had not done a sufficiently good job in representing their grievances. The board and the government, in reshaping their policies to cope with a period of contraction, had fashioned a redundancy package which appealed to the individual miner but which was bound to get the opposition of the union. In that month of May the Notts working miners came together and produced their own activists and officials. They began to meet, in pubs and clubs, often behind police protection and certainly with NCB approval.